Outdoor heating is a way to keep you and your guests warm and cosy as well as extending the time you spend in your backyard?
Using our 30 years of experience, we will help you transform your chilly outdoor space into a welcoming and cosy backyard.
As well as help you decide on the type of outdoor heating that’s going to be most suitable for your specific needs.
In this article, we will discuss;
- The various outdoor heating systems.
- Their fuels and the effects they have on the environment.
- The best place to position your heating system.
Ways to heat your outdoor space;
Chimineas, Fire Pits and Patio Outdoor Heaters.
Fire Pits and factors that could affect your decision.
Outdoor heating and in particular Fire pits, have gained in popularity over the past few years, because of their ease of use, they can be built in place or bought in kit form.
They come in many different shapes, sizes and a choice of materials.
Everyone loves to sit around a burning fire, the warmth and dancing flames create an almost hypnotic effect and allows the mind to relax.
Having a fire pit installed in your backyard may seem a simple decision to make.
However, before you get too excited you may want to consider one or two factors that could affect your decision:
Burning Questions to ask yourself.
- Do you want a portable outdoor heating system or a permanent structure.?
- Will it form part of your backyard design?
- How much excavation work will have to be done?
- Maybe you need to hire professionals to carry out the work?
Do you need permission from your local Authority?
What regulations, rules or laws set by your local office will you need to know about?
Here are the three most common types of fuel used in backyard patio heaters:
Wood burners and fire laws.
Before making your decision, check with your local Authority regarding wood burning laws, regulations, restrictions etc.
Some regions ban wood burning altogether.
Real wood fires, being extremely warm and cosy, don’t just look amazing, they bring a real sense of comfort and have that camp fire feeling.
Everyone sitting around chatting and listening to the sound of cracking wood is the best feeling in the world.
An extra bonus, you can also cook on them.
Remember chopping and carrying wood can be quiet strenuous, so be prepared.
Beware! An open fire pit can be a safety hazard due to flying sparks and smoke.
Keep these considerations in mind if your thinking of treating yourself to a fire pit.
Infrared Propane Gas Heaters
The heat radiating from infrared heaters are not normally affected by wind, this makes them more efficient than other traditional patio heaters.
They warm the people within its vicinity not the surrounding air.
When it comes to heating an outdoor patio effectively infrared heaters are the real choice.
Infrared has been used in outdoor heaters for more than 50 years and is very efficient.
Liquid propane is also used in gas heaters (also known as LP Gas)
The benefits of owning an LP heater are:
- They are mobile, easy and quick to set up.
- Can be used almost anywhere, camping, tailgating.
- Trips to the beach.
- Partying under the stars.
Tips on Choosing a Patio Heater.
When choosing an outdoor heater for your patio or backyard you should consider:
The type of fuel it uses, real wood, Gas, electric.
It’s features, how easy is it to use?
Is it compact and light enough to carry?
Overall size, will it fit well on your patio and add ambience to your surroundings?.
For example, if your yard is small and your struggling for space, then a wall mounted heater may be best for you.
- Outdoor propane heaters are convenient
- Quick and easy to set-up in your backyard.
- They can be portable or fixed in place.
- Simply connect to a propane tank and your good to go.
- Does not require electricity hook-up.
- Easy to light.
- No smoke or sparks to worry about.
- Clean to the environment.
- Portable propane heaters can be used in most camp sites where there’s a burn ban.
- Propane tank: Requires a 20-pound propane tank.
- The tank will require some sort of storage space.
- The propane will require filling regularly.
- Cumbersome to move around.
Natural gas is both convenient and cost effective, but you need to have a gas line connected to your home, then you can connect your heater to it.
This means you won’t have to have a separate gas tank and you won’t have to dash off to the store when your tank runs out.
Neither will you have to keep changing fuel as everything runs from your main gas line.
This is definitely a big plus if you have mains gas already.
- Natural Gas has much the same benefits as Propane.
- Controlled by switching on and off as required.
- It is also environmentally friendly.
- Needs more maintenance to keep the valves clear.
- Advisable to have them checked by a professional annually.
- Requires a pipeline to the property.
Gas vs. Wood
Gas is instant and there’s no mess to clean up, no smoke to annoy your neighbours, no chopping wood. No feeding the fire.
You will need storage tanks if you don’t have a mains gas line to your house.
Of course, you won’t get that amazing sound of crackling wood and sparks, that you do with real wood.
Safety should be a big factor in deciding where to place your fire pit.
Try to reduce the effect of smoke on your backyard and the surrounding area.
Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet away or more from any structure or combustible surface.(check with your local regulations)
Create a sheltered spot away from trees, wooden buildings and prevailing wind.
Before lighting an outdoor fire, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast.
Avoid windy conditions that can blow embers.
Child safety, kids love fires.
You may need to place a barrier around it to keep them safe.
Choose Natural Gas or Propane if you’re concerned about the environment.
Placement of portable fire pit.
Should you decide to use a portable or freestanding fire pit it must be placed on a level area and well away from combustible materials.
Seating around a fire pit needs to be movable or placed a safe distance from the fire.
You should provide at least 7 feet of space around all outer edges of a fire pit.
Building your own fire pit (Tips)
If you want your fire pit to be a permanent feature, then you need to give it some structure, using a steel liner will ensure your fire pit last for years.
Fire-retardant bricks and a fire ring should be used to protect the cement from heat, do not use landscaping bricks unless they have been kiln-fired and can withstand the heat of the flames.
Fire pit plans and self-build kits can be purchased for convenience.
I have done some research for you and found this great website that actually shows you how to build a fire pit in easy to follow instructions with pictures and a list of the materials required.
You can check it out here.
Chimineas: What is a chiminea used for?
A chiminea is another form of outdoor heating that’s perfect for small yards or patios.
They are freestanding, have a round body with an opening in the front and a vertical chimney.
The chimney helps direct smoke and sparks away from where you are sitting
by drawing air into the fire and out the neck making it safer and more comfortable than an open fire pit.
What should you burn in a chiminea?
The most commonly used fuel is wood although some are now made that can use charcoal (check manufacturers instructions)
You can choose just about any type of firewood you want but apple or hickory give off a nice aroma.
Tip: A good quality fire will be produced using well seasoned timber.
What is the best material for a chiminea?
Chimineas are made of several different materials, Clay, Copper, Cast Iron, stainless steel, and cast aluminium
Clay, this is the type of material used in original chimineas,but doesn’t stand up to inclement weather conditions very well therefore would need some sort of protective cover.
Copper, if you’re looking for that antiqued appearance for a themed garden design, then a copper chiminea could provide that look.
Just be aware that these will not stand up to heavy use and can require a lot of maintenance.
Cast Iron, These are very robust and will last for many years.
They are extremely heavy and are not intended to be moved around.
It’s a good idea to know exactly where your going to place the chiminea before you have it installed in your garden or backyard.
Stainless Steel, These type of chimineas tend to be much cheaper than clay or cast iron.
They can be found in your local hardware store, garden centres, and shopping malls they are generally sold as kits requiring assembly.
Tip: It’s a good idea to check all parts for any defects.
Cast Aluminium, The most popular chimineas for most buyers, although a little more expensive than other types,they are made to last.
So there you have it.
If you’re looking for a chiminea that will last a lifetime as part of your backyard design and your happy to leave it in one place then the cast iron is for you.
Looking for the most popular chiminea that will fit in with your lifestyle, is easy to maintain, portable and value for money then go for cast-aluminium.
Outdoor patio heaters
Patio heaters are a great way to heat your outdoor space. You have a choice of Gas or electric which are available as;
Tabletop models, freestanding, parasol heaters and even wall mounted.
Most peoples tastes are now catered for with the huge range of designs and styles the manufacturers of Gas Patio Heaters are now selling, and expensive to run compared to electricity.
Electric outdoor heaters
Many electric heaters now come with a sensor that turns on when triggered by movement.
Electric heaters use less energy than Gas patio heaters.
They are also free of toxins, so no worries about the environment.
Solid fuel patio heaters
These are mainly outdoor fireplaces that use logs or pellets.
Wonderful to sit around but not very good for your health if used over a long period of time.
Weighing up the pros and cons
Solid fuel, electric and gas.
Electric seems to be the way forward for the best, cleanest and most efficient way to provide outdoor heating.
Keeping your family and guests warm and cosy while entertaining them.
Over the years we have used all three types of fuel and in all honesty, our favourite is still the wood burning fire.
With its hypnotic dancing flames, sparks and that unforgettable sound of crackling wood. I can just hear it now.
It all really comes down to personal choice, your environment and the restrictions put on you by local fire laws and community regulations.
We hope this information has helped you decide that heating your outdoor space will transform your ordinary yard into an awesome cosy backyard that you will enjoy for years to come.
Check out our article on Top 10 Benefits of having a Fire Pit in your back garden
One great way to protect you from the cold, insulate yourself from the inside, a bowl of hot steaming punch, guaranteed to warm your heart and bones, we highly recommend it.
Life is for living
Go live it.